The connection between people of color and music genres like rock and punk is often lost on people. And even when the connection is made, as someone finds out there is actual representation of people of color in punk, for example, the idea emerges that there is one band, one outlier, and the discussion ends there.
People who have the aforementioned mindsets have clearly never heard of H09909, pronounced “horror.” The way the band is described often doesn’t accurately capture what the group sounds like. The arrangement of the song “Street Power” contains verses at the beginning that sound like the rap style of Southern rappers, like Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz. But beneath that angry, stylized rap, is the menace created by punk guitars waiting to burst into action. And for most of the rest of the song, a fast, aggressive vocal delivery pounds over equally aggressive instrumentation. The punk portion isn’t necessarily novel, but it is impossible to ignore. A person who understands musical genres wouldn’t call this simply “hip-hop” music. Although, they have been categorized as exactly that on at least one website. There seems to be too much going on musically to ignore the punk and hardcore aspects.
For audiences for whom “Street Power” serves as their introduction to H09909, it is clear from the first moments of the video that there is a statement being made, an almost iconoclastic approach to expressing unrest. The lyrics are not comprised of a straightforward narrative. But what is there discusses the rules of surviving life in a city’s streets. “Death” is cheered for, as in, “Go death, death, death.”
Onscreen, a montage of images from early 20th century black American Christians baptizing each other in a river, to various black and white clips of pigs – – cartoon pigs, actual pigs, people in pig masks, and a white woman in a mid-century kitchen cutting up meat, presumably pork, and other scenes of urban unrest, mixed with visions of the performers in light-colored makeup. The scenes and the mood are dark. There is commentary here and there is effective punk rock, too.
The group formed in Los Angeles in 2014. They are also known as Triple 9 Death Kult and H09909 Death Kult. The members are OGM and Eaddy. The two started in Newark, New Jersey and re-located to Los Angeles in 2014. The group’s sound and approach to music-making caught on with audiences because they have been involved with several music festivals with substantial reputations. The festivals the group has played in include Afropunk Festival, SXSW Music Festival and Primavera Sound Festival. Infamously, the group was kicked off Warped Tour for being too…punk? Too wild? This year, H09909 also played Hellfest.
H09909’s first full-length album “United States of Horror” was released in June 2017. The group has attracted collaborators and fans on the basis of several singles released throughout their history. Some people are also drawn to what can be called the “grindhouse” style of their videos.
While H09909 is not the first group to combine hip-hop or elements of rap with punk rock, the extreme to which the band goes to make their point does make them stand out. With the release of their first full-length album, the band is likely to continue to attract fans from around the world. The band’s video for “Street Power” has earned comments from worldwide fans, mostly applauding their music and calling for a world tour that would bring the group to the fans’ home countries.